Monday, October 24, 2011

Styling a Dream Wedding - An Interview with Samantha of Primary Petals

I came across the work of Samantha Santana - floral designer and event stylist,while browsing the pages of Utterly Engaged and I instantly fell in love with her beautiful creations. Samantha's floral designs are breathtakingly beautiful!

I sent her an e-mail, asking if she would care to do an interview for my blog. It is so nice of her to say yes and it has been a pleasure corresponding with her for this article. What I love about interviewing people is that I learn a lot from what they share!

wedding flower arrangement by primary petals

Samantha talks about how she got into this career, and shares her personal thoughts and experiences on being a florist and event stylist. She also gives tips on how to style a dream wedding on a limited budget. If you are planning your wedding, I am sure that you will find this interview an inspiration.

How long have you been in the business?
I have been practicing floral design and event styling with my husband, James, as my business partner for almost 3 years now.

wedding flower arrangement by primary petals

Did you really choose to be a florist and event stylist?
No, it is quite a surprise! I fell into this career after a friend asked me to provide florals for her wedding. I am her "artsy" friend, so she thought I'd be able to pull it off. Apparently I did, because soon after her wedding a flow of request for seasonal wedding flowers came my way!

However, it wasn't until I lost my job in entertainment, due to an injury, that I really was forced to move into event styling and floral design full time. It was a blessing in disguise because I suddenly was getting tons of work without trying due to a few blog features I had on some prominent wedding blogs. The work has not slowed down ever since!

wedding flower arrangement by primary petals

What do you enjoy most about your job?
I really, really love that I get to work creatively with my hands all the time. It relives the stress of the office side of my job greatly. Also, I am so lucky that I get to work with my husband and with best friend Blair. We have so much fun blasting music to sing along with while we work on projects.

Is there anything you dislike about it? If yes, what is it?
I really, really hate walking up early to go to the Los Angeles Flower Market to purchase flowers. I mean , I hate it (and usually it snooze a few times). However, once I'm there, I remember how much I like that place, and I get really into discovering whatever flowers are in season that week.

wedding flower arrangement by primary petals
 wedding flower arrangement by primary petals

What are some the biggest challenges you experienced and how were you able to get over them?
Some of the biggest challenges I face with Primary Petals are keeping home and work life separate and also making sure I am creatively in tune with each of my clients. We work from a loft that is both our studio and our home, so keeping the two separate is almost impossible. It is the cause for many tiffs with me and my husband.

However, we are very honest and transparent with each other, so any problems that arise are spoken of immediately. Likewise, we try not to bring up any problems in front of our coworkers, because for them, our home is their workspace.

Also, it is so so important that I stay on track with my clients creatively because I want them to know that I am customizing my work with them specifically in mind, which can be challenging when I have 50 clients to worry about at a time! It's a good thing that I work well under pressure!

wedding flower arrangement by primary petals

What are your favorite flowers?
This is a tough question! Honestly, it changes from season to season. Right now I've been really into dahlias because they have been so giant this summer, but this past week coral peonies popped up suddenly, so they are my favorite right now.

Overall though, I love to find the bizarre plants people don't normally think of as standard and incorporate them into my work, such as proteas, cactus, and succulents.

wedding flower arrangement by primary petals

What was the most memorable wedding event you've been part of?
One of the most memorable weddings I've ever been a part of was our good friends Mark and Jehoaddan Kulakoff's wedding. They are both amazing graphic designers who intimidate me greatly, so I was so worried my flowers and design would not impress them. They love unusual shapes and wanted their wedding to be more like a party, so I found the most unusual and colorful plants I could for their event.

I even watched Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory as I worked on their bouquets and boutonnieres, hoping it would influence me visually. The end result was better than I could have expected. The flowers looked like nothing any of us had ever seen. Mark & Jehoaddan's style is now the most requested and referenced of any of my work.

wedding flower arrangement by primary petals

Where do you find inspirations for your arrangements?
I find inspiration in film and media for my arrangements and styling. For every event and wedding I work on, I think of a movie, tv show, video game, etc. which would match the style and design.
For example, James and I created a whole wedding concept around flowers which reminded us of Super Mario Brothers. People thought we were crazy for thinking such a tacky idea would work, but it did!

The styled shoot we did on the idea this past summer was published on the wedding blog Green Wedding Shoes and is now internationally known. I have noticed that ever since it's publication, many people are more willing to incorporate unusual themes and elements into their events and weddings.

wedding flower arrangement by primary petals
wedding flower arrangement by primary petals
 wedding flower arrangement by primary petals

What do you do when you’re not busy styling?
When I'm not busy styling, I like to cook and eat. Food is another passion of mine, and in Downtown LA where we're located there are so many good restaurant and bars to try out.

 If we peek inside your bag, what can we see?
Do you mean my purse? Because if you were to look into it you'd find some standards, like a wallet, iphone, lip gloss, matches, bandaid. However, you'd also find candy!

wedding flower arrangement by primary petals

What is your dream wedding?
This is not even a fair question! I have seen so many amazing weddings, so I could not even decide. I think I could have 20 dream weddings. I guess for me visuals are important, so I'd need lots of saturated colors played against muted tones and gold colors.

The style would need to be pretty organic, so a very natural outdoor location would be perfect, such as the dessert or a pine forest. James and I would definitely created custom installation pieces, such as floating arrangements or lighting scheme, and the flowers would be big and billowing. Also, my dream wedding would need amazing food, good drinks, and lots of friends and family.

wedding flower arrangement by primary petals

What are your favorite wedding shops?
I am not very familiar with wedding shops, but I love to thrift for props, vases, etc. to use in my styling and floral designs. Thrifting is so great because you can find original pieces with lots of character, which will make your event very unique.

Likewise, thrifting is great for a bride on a budget because you are recycling used pieces, as opposed to buying everything new. Plus, you can find some amazing items in thrift stores! For example, I have found tons of vintage decanters which I rent out for events constantly because they are so beautiful and different.

wedding flower arrangement by primary petals
Is it possible to put together a beautiful wedding without spending so much?
Yes, it is, but it takes a lot of hard work. I think there are 4 key elements to making your wedding look like a million bucks on a tight budget.
First, find a beautiful location. The more beautiful it is, the less you'll need to do to dress it up. Secondly, hire an amazing photographer. A good photographer can make even a simple wedding look amazing when looked upon later. 

 Thirdly, go with seasonal flowers. They will be the most affordable because of their abundance, and also the most beautiful because they will be at the height of their season. Lastly, keep your guest list and wedding party numbers down. The less people their are, the more funds you'll have to use on aesthetic elements. 

Also, there is nothing wrong with hiring a food truck for your wedding. It tastes better than most event food anyways!
wedding flower arrangement by primary petals

Have you styled a wedding on a limited budget?
Yes, as all my clients are on limited budgets. I take time to sit down and customize each client's event to their individual budget and style. As mentioned before, I encourage my clients to stick with seasonal flowers to keep cost lower, and to focus more on the overall feel and character of a wedding then the size of the centerpieces.

Again you do not need tons and tons of flowers, candles, fabric, etc to make your wedding look formal. You just need your wedding to represent the character of you and your significant other and who you are as a whole.

wedding flower arrangement by primary petals

What tips can you give couples who are planning to tie the knot soon?
Samantha Santana of Primary Petals
Make sure to find vendors that connect with you creatively and that you like on a personal level. You will be working with these people for months, so it is important to make sure you've found a fit that is easy to work with and who really understands your style.

Where can we find you online? (facebook, twitter, etc)
You can find Primary Petals on facebook, twitter, Yelp, and at our website, We also have been published on Green Wedding Shoes, Utterly Engaged, Grey Likes Weddings, and Style Me Pretty, to name a few.

Any message to your customers and the people who support you?
I have been blessed with clients who trust my skills, and I thank them for letting me assemble unique pieces for their events and weddings.

Also, thank you to all the creative vendors I collaborate with on events and photo shoots. They challenge me constantly to expand myself artistically, which has kept me from ever producing cookie cutter looking products. Thank you all!


A Huge Thanks To You, Samantha!
A Thousand More Prettiness to Primary Petals!

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